“He found nothing but leaves (Mark 11:13).”
October is a long way off, but I love that season because our apple trees make the best applesauce. I protect those apples all year, but once the trees are picked I ignore them, and so do the pesky animals because now they have no real value. Mark can relate.
Mark’s record here in chapter 11 is one of the two times that Jesus destroyed something in nature (the other was the demons He cast out into a herd of pigs that ran over a cliff). This fig tree had no fruit, “nothing but leaves,” and He cursed it. Seems extreme, but it was symbolic of what He had found in Israel…no spiritual fruit on the tree of Israel.
With days before His death and the New Covenant, Jesus was done with their lip service (Mark 7:6), and wanted a heart change that He did not find (Mark’s next section is the second time He threw out the moneychangers from the Temple, which Israel’s leaders had turned from a worship center into big profits). They had drifted too far from God.
Religious hypocrites are nothing new. Good riddance to fakers with green leaves and no real value, but it’s also a good reminder…one day Jesus will inspect your life for fruit too. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10).”
Not “fruit” like being good or going to church (Isaiah 64:6, Titus 3:5), but real repentance as Jesus’ baptizing cousin said in Matthew 3:8, “bring forth fruit in keeping with repentance.” He wants a change of heart, a surrender of your rebellious attitude of indifference to your sin and His love for you. Jesus wants you back, but your sin separates you from God (Isaiah 59:2).
So who cares about fruit and repentance? Well, you should care because you are going to meet Jesus and He won’t care a fig about church or being good. His standard is perfection, absolute holiness, and the absence of sin (Habakkuk 1:13, Matthew 5:48). It makes sense since Heaven has no sin, but no one is that pure, so is it even possible?
“Nobody’s perfect, and He can’t really expect me to be holy? If I’m honest, I’ve lied, cheated, stolen, lusted, and busted just about every commandment in thought, word, or deed. So if He wants to have an impossible standard, I don’t care. I’m guilty, so be it, and if I’m honest, not really very good either…if ‘good’ means holy, then I’m lost.”
God knew our broken-helplessness, His responsibility to be just and punish lawbreakers, and so He provided Himself…a lamb. Only God can meet His holy standard, and that’s why God became a man. Jesus, the sinless man, was that perfect payment for us. God loved us, reconciled us, and remained just by having His Son die in our place. His sacrifice made us as righteous as God (2 Corinthians 5:21). This good news is free, but you must choose it. Fall seems a long way off, but October is coming (Hebrews 9:27).